Blue Island alderman drowns in NW Ind. marina - FOX 32 News Chicago

Blue Island alderman drowns in NW Ind. marina

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WHITING, Ind. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The body of a south suburban alderman was found in Lake Michigan on Thursday night after he disappeared while swimming off a northwest Indiana beach.

"Blue Island has lost a brother due to a tragic accident," Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas said in a statement released Friday morning.

A boater contacted the U.S. Coast Guard at 3:45 p.m. Thursday to say Michael Janko, 50, went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan about a quarter-mile north of Whihala Beach in Whiting, Ind., according to the Coast Guard.

The boater told the Coast Guard that Janko jumped into the water and resurfaced, but was unresponsive. Another swimmer grabbed Janko but was unable to hold onto him, the Coast Guard said.

Janko, who was not wearing a life jacket, then went under again and did not resurface.

The Indiana Conservation Marine Unit conducted a sonar search and Lake County (Ind.) Sheriff's divers found Janko's body at 10:28 p.m., the Coast Guard said.

Janko, of the 2600 block of 122nd Place in Blue Island, was taken to the Hammond Marina at 701 Casino Center Dr. where he was pronounced dead at 11:45 p.m., according to the Lake County (Ind.) Coroner's office.

He was an alderman for Blue Island's Fifth Ward. He and his wife Kim had two daughters, the mayor's statement said.

Vargas called Janko, "a committed and compassionate leader." The lifelong resident of Blue Island graduated from Eisenhower High in 1981 and was also a graduate of Moraine Community College. He was president of the Mother McAuley Fathers Club, board member of the Blue Island Historical Society, and Mayor Pro Tem of Blue Island.

"Michael's hard work, hearty laugh, motivation, and dedication to this city will be sorely missed," Vargas said in the statement.

"The mayor's office of Blue Island and all members and employees of city hall are grief-stricken. We as one group send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to all members of the entire Janko family."

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